CBCP 89TH PLENARY ASSEMBLY
Pius XII Center, Manila, July 10-11, 2004
”For Jesus is our peace, he who…broke down the dividing wall of enmity” (Eph 2:14)
At the conclusion of the grace-filled National Retreat and Congress of the Clergy held at the World Trade Center, Manila on July 5-9, 2004, the bishops of the Philippines committed themselves to the renewal of the clergy and the Church for the renewal of the country.
Gathered for the 89th CBCP Plenary Assembly of July 10-11 at Pius XII Center in Manila the bishops reviewed the conduct of the May 10th elections and their consequences for the future course of the country. Each bishop present was asked to comment on whether or not massive fraud in the conduct of the elections was observed by him and the volunteers in his diocese so as to have affected substantially the results of the elections. With only one or two exceptions, the rest of the bishops answered in the negative. This confirms our statement of June 1, 2004, “that there were some instances of cheating and violations of election law by political parties in their areas but these did not affect the voting in general.” It is the view of the bishops that the results of the elections reflected the will of the Filipino people.
Having declared that, the bishops were still concerned about reports given to us by our volunteers and other groups about rampant buying and selling of votes, violence and killings, the disenfranchisement of voters and other allegations of irregularities that are forms of cheating. We condemn cheating in any form. In this light the CBCP Permanent Council will form an ad hoc committee to study these reports for our internal reference with the objective of looking at the future conduct of our elections and how dioceses may be better prepared to safeguard the integrity of elections. Any charges by political parties or evidence of irregularities during the elections, the bishops believe, go beyond our competence to judge and should be forwarded to the proper courts or electoral tribunals for legal action.
Now is the time to look beyond the elections. Our people must move ahead with faith and hope. Fired up by love of country, we are called to develop a culture of integrity, to participate in national transformation, to build up the conditions for peace, to intensify our fight against corruption, and to monitor the performance of our elected officials. This is a long process, demanding of us perseverance and vigilance. But we can work effectively for societal change only through a continuous conversion of hearts and minds.
To signal our commitment to the common goal of healing our land, the bishops are calling for a Day of Prayer for Peace, National Unity and Renewal on August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. May this be the beginning of a culture and lifestyle of peace, unity and renewal! This coincides also with the national launching of the Eucharistic and Marian Year with the theme, “Celebrating the Eucharist with Mary.” The Eucharist is a lasting memorial of Jesus’ love that gives life to others. For us Mary too is an exemplar of a love that gives life. Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, may we indeed forge ahead for the greater good of our people!
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
FERNANDO R. CAPALLA, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
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